In the 1980's, as union membership declined in the United States and in other developed countries, the importance of legal regulation of the nonunion workplace (and also the significance of anti-discrimination and other laws for organized workplaces) increased. Law schools began teaching Employment Law alongside their Labor Law offerings and now far more students take an Employment Law course than a Labor Law course.
This year's Columbia Employment Law course will begin with laws concerning job search, especially the information employers can seek. It proceeds to the various anti-discrimination principles, including race, gender, religion, age, disability, and sexual orientation. Then it takes up wage and hour laws, worker "freedom" (dress, harassment, privacy, and freedom of speech, both at work and away from work), and safety and health. It proceeds to wrongful dismissal law and the exceptions to employment at will. Finally, this is a course about the welfare state as the U.S. uses employers to provide and administer its provisions. This includes health, unemployment, and disability benefits as well as pensions regulated through ERISA and the public sector pensions exempt from ERISA.
The course will meet an average of twice a week but three dates are assigned because Professor Liebman, until recently Director of the American Law Institute, still has out of town responsibilities to the ALI. The book is Rothstein and Liebman, Employment Law (7th edition and 2014 Supplement).